Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.
But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it.
I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.
When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.
You see, trust is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, our trust is in God.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.Isaiah 26:3
We need to be strategizing our route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. We need to be considering traffic and road conditions, but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. We need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency beyond our own abilities and actions.
When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.
This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, and will bring us safely to our destination, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who will be bringing us safely home at the end of the trip.